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Open thread and Second Circuit news w/ UPDATE


Today the Second Circuit Court of Appeals is hearing argument in a case involving anti-gay employment discrimination under federal law. The Trump administration’s Department of Justice will and the company argue that federal law doesn’t protect gay employees, while the EEOC and the plaintiff’s estate will argue that it does. The full (“en banc“) Second Circuit court will hear the case, instead of a three-judge panel.

Equality Case Files has more information here.

UPDATE: Audio is here.

This is an open thread.


  • 1. guitaristbl  |  September 26, 2017 at 7:55 pm

    Its official : Guess who will soon be sitting in the US senate come 2018 :

    Tbh I dont see any difference between the rhetoric of Moore and an ISIS member. If you change the deity I could easily mix them up.

  • 2. davepCA  |  September 26, 2017 at 10:10 pm

    The voters of Alabama have turned the democratic process into a fucking dumpster fire.

  • 3. Elihu_Bystander  |  September 27, 2017 at 5:20 am

    The senate should refuse to seat him on moral grounds. That has happened in the past. Of course that won't happen. I don't know the mechanics of that process. Perhaps we should all write to our senators.

  • 4. guitaristbl  |  September 27, 2017 at 7:05 am

    Nah let him take his seat and speak A LOT. I cant think of any better advertisement for democrats to lure independents in rather than this psychopath.

  • 5. FredDorner  |  September 27, 2017 at 1:52 pm

    The reality is that there's no policy difference whatsoever between Moore, Sessions, Strange, or any other Alabama Republican. They're literally all racists, homophobes, misogynists and bible-babbling theocrats, but Moore is more honest about his bigotry.
    The main reason the GOP leadership didn't want Moore is because he doesn't work well with other people.

    By the way has anyone heard from RickVI after the hurricane?

  • 6. bayareajohn  |  September 27, 2017 at 2:01 pm

    No posts from Rick in 3 weeks now.

  • 7. FredDorner  |  September 27, 2017 at 2:07 pm

    I hope he's OK. I can't believe there'd be such an inept disaster response if Obama or Clinton were President.

  • 8. bayareajohn  |  September 27, 2017 at 2:11 pm

    Trump is all about AMERICA FIRST.
    I guess FOX NEWS hasn't told him that the VI and PR are USA too.

  • 9. 1grod  |  September 27, 2017 at 4:27 pm

    John and Fred: As said in an earlier thread, its highly probable that Rick is going to need financial support. Almost a dozen gave a thumbs up to my stating that "I'm ready to help". G

  • 10. VIRick  |  October 4, 2017 at 10:36 pm

    After Irma slammed through on 6-7 September, followed by Maria on 19-21 September, the airport on St. Thomas was finally re-opened to limited commercial air traffic on 28 September, that is, to one daily Delta flight to Atlanta and to one American flight to Miami (still the only airport in the entire area to be re-opened). I was able to procure (for $1000.00) the last unsold seat on American's flight on 3 October, and am now safe in the States. My previously-held ticket on United proved to be worthless, as that wretched airline has chosen to "withdraw from the market."

    Throughout the entire ordeal, I was "lucky" in the sense that the sole ATT cell phone tower to remain functional happened to be the one directly above my house. That fortuitous occurrence proved to be my lifeline. Otherwise, we have nothing,– no other cell phone service, no internet, no electricity, no refrigeration (to the point where I was forced to spray bug-spray in freezer to keep the critters at bay). And of course, no matter how prepared we thought we were, we soon began to run out of key supplies, and had no means to replace them. And that included cash, gasoline, lamp oil, and basic food items. We were reduced to foraging off the land, salvaging what we could of my entire avocado crop, along with coconuts and breadfruit.

    We saved the house, although a smashed louver handle caused one bedroom to be drenched. And our downstairs storeroom/sanctuary was severely flooded after the storm drain was blocked with debris. Five of the 6 vehicles survived unscathed, although 2 had flat tires afterward, 1 needed to be jump-started, and one needed its distributor to be dried out. The 6th, a truck chassis SUV, got buried when a monster tree fell on it, smashing the windshield, and pounding the hood and right front fender. But we drove it anyway, after chain-sawing it out of its prison, as it started right up.

    To say the least, I am exhausted from all the physical labor, and need some time to recover. Also, having been "out of the loop" for almost a month, I feel very disconnected from whatever had occurred elsewhere in the interim. But I do know this: The Assh-ole-in-Charge made some pretense to come inspect our damage on the very day I departed, but he never showed up. Instead, he reveled in his twitter war with the mayor of San Juan, boasting about how much the US government is providing. No. They have done very, very little. One example. On St. Thomas, it is estimated that 13,000 structures are in need of the blue FEMA roofing tarps. About 1,300 individuals have already applied for the assistance. But only 65 have been installed. As for Puerto Rico, no one has a clue. Also, the closest I got to military action was being sideswiped by an extra-wide Humvee on the narrow, debris-filled mountain road directly below my house.

  • 11. FredDorner  |  October 4, 2017 at 11:03 pm

    I'm glad to hear you're safe! Sounds like St Thomas & St Croix face the same sort of long term problems as PR.

    My heavily wooded rural area was hit by an F5 tornado in 1984. The pics I've seen of PR and the USVI look a lot like that kind of total devastation but far more widespread (and a lot harder to recover from).

  • 12. VIRick  |  October 4, 2017 at 11:35 pm

    St. Croix seems very isolated now, as there is absolutely no communications there. At the moment, the harbor-to-harbor seaplanes are their only escape route. As for St. John, one ferry has been repaired and put back into a limited service, but otherwise, that island also still remains desperately isolated.

    For the BVI, all travel remains "unofficial," by private charter, although between the two hurricanes, the Puerto Rico "navy" rescued hundreds of people from those scattered islands, while the actual Dutch Navy landed there on Tortola in an attempt to restore some semblance of civil order. I could see the many private speedboats zooming back and forth right from my house, while the Assh-ole-in-charge still thinks he can erect a wall. And now, people from Puerto Rico are escaping to St. Thomas through Fajardo on that island's east coast, only 40 miles away.

    Just a note: Richard Branson's fashionable mansion on his private island in the BVI, where the Obamas recently stayed, was utterly destroyed. He was there at the time, and finally escaped, via St. Thomas, on 28 September.

    Further afield, since Irma, the situation in Sint Marten/St-Martin is beyond desperate, while since Maria, the situation in Dominica is equally horrific. Ironically, after Irma, that island-nation donated $200,000 to aid us in our hurricane recovery. Quite frankly, the money should be graciously returned.

    Also of note: Originally, I held a return ticket for travel back to St. Thomas with American on 14 November. However, under the current circumstances, that return date is quite premature. Just tonight, at my earnest request, and at no cost, American has kindly moved my travel date back to 25 December. Possibly, by then, electrical power might be 90% restored to the island. The first shipment of 1300 utility poles have already arrived and another 2500 are en route.

    For anyone familiar with St. Thomas, the St. Thomas Botanical Gardens and the elegant St. Peter Great House, both major tourist attractions within easy walking distance of my house, were destroyed.

  • 13. scream4ever  |  October 4, 2017 at 11:52 pm

    So relieved to hear you're okay! If there's anything you need we're here to help (not sure if you saw, but we're ready to start a gofundme page for you!).

  • 14. VIRick  |  October 5, 2017 at 1:02 am

    Scream, I am safe now, but everyone else in the household is stuck there, mainly because they are attempting to hold down their pre-existing jobs. A good example would be my partner's son who works at a major tourist attraction. At the very earliest, we do not expect any cruise ships to return, the main source of revenue, until around Thanksgiving.

    During Irma, the roof of his apartment blew off, drenching all of his possessions, while downed trees blocked his car. He walked halfway across the island in an epic journey to seek our assistance in freeing his car and in rescuing his belongings. It took us 3 days, and a lot of cajolery at the military check-points, to move all of his stuff back to our house, where we then proceeded to dry out his clothes and salvage his electronics for him, a job which was accomplished before Maria struck. In the meantime, he has now moved into the tourist attraction itself, as part of a 24-hour in-house security team, never mind that his normal job there is management. At least he still gets paid,– and provides us with ice.

    In August, I gave him several beds and a living room suite of furniture which we removed from a house I rent out. I am not certain what has become of those items, but after two hurricanes, the beds are probably ruined.

    My immediate neighbors, occupants of that same rented house, operate several food establishments on both cruise ship docks, and have no idea whether they can continue to make ends meet until the ships finally return. Being so utterly dependent on the tourist traffic, longer term, has placed many people here in some extremely tenuous situations.

    On the other hand, people like myself or my partner, who have previously been through major hurricanes and/or who grew up dirt-poor in third world environments, have a tendency to simply revert back to how it was back then. Example: Because the lower unit of the house is further down the incline than the cistern overflow, he has employed a garden hose siphon and gravity, running the hose from the cistern through the bathroom window and into the 5-gallon buckets assembled in the shower stall. Result: instant in-house "running" water, albeit, it's still a cold shower with a garden hose.

    And this is a critical difference between us in the USVI and the people in Puerto Rico. Here (and in many other small islands like Bermuda and the BVI), by law, we must provide for our own water by collecting rain water off the roof and storing it below the house in a cistern, cisterns which are now filled to overflow. In Puerto Rico, most urban residents depend upon a municipal water supply system which collects water stored in artificially dammed up lakes in the mountains, water which is then piped down to the residents. But without working electrical pumps, their system can fail, leaving residents without any water whatsoever. And after the onslaught of Maria, their water system failed.

  • 15. TheVirginian722  |  October 5, 2017 at 2:40 am

    Rick, good to know that you have made it to the mainland and will be able to recuperate from your four-week ordeal.

    Needless to say, we have all been greatly concerned about you as we have followed news of the hurricanes. And it certainly hasn't been the same here without you!

  • 16. Sagesse  |  October 5, 2017 at 4:12 am

    What he said. Good to hear from you, and relieved to hear that you are safe.

  • 17. VIRick  |  October 5, 2017 at 10:40 pm

    Thanks guys, but I am still mourning the passing of others who were less able to survive the ordeal. The following obituary is tragic:

    A St. Thomas Hurricane Obituary

    The family of the late Luis Antonio “Tito” Morales announces his passing on 8 September 2017 on the island of St. Thomas. Tito, as he was affectionately called, was a devoted labor union leader and political activist. Tito was born on 5 August 1946 to Iris Mildred Fabio and Natalio Morales on the island of St. Thomas.

    A selfless civil servant, Tito dedicated his life’s work to addressing the injustices in the work place for anyone who needed assistance. His passion for fairness led him to serve as the president of the United Steelworkers Local Union 8249 for more than 30 years and as the president of the Central Labor Council.

  • 18. JayJonson  |  October 5, 2017 at 6:28 am

    So happy that you are safe and able to leave the island, Rick. The neglect of USVI and Puerto Rico by our government (as exemplified by the Assh-ole-in-Charge) is disgraceful. As you know, the recovery will be long and difficult, but it will happen.

  • 19. VIRick  |  October 5, 2017 at 9:00 pm

    Jay, I love the headline to today's leading news article at St. Thomas Source. As a side-note while reading this, one must remember that Denmark retains certain basic residual rights to the territory, and at the extreme, could even invoke the current US neglect as constituting gross human rights violations, violations which would abrogate the terms of the treaty of transfer, and allow Denmark to reclaim the islands as Danish territory. Of course, I fully appreciate that the Assh-ole-in-Charge is clueless about the treaty of transfer, but I am quite certain that the Danish Ministry of Defense is fully aware of said terms, and that that's the real reason for the mission, as Denmark has always kept a close, benevolent watch on developments in the territory.

    Denmark Sending Aid to US Virgin Islands

    The Danish Emergency Management Agency is sending emergency teams to the US Virgin Islands to assist officials in recovery efforts following the widespread devastation caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, the Royal Danish Consulate (in St. Thomas) announced on Thursday, 5 October 2017.

    The US Virgin Islands, which was once a Danish possession known as the Danish West Indies (Den Danske Vestindien), were severely damaged when the two category-five hurricanes battered the islands in September. Roads, harbors, airports, hospitals, electrical power, and communication networks have been damaged or destroyed, according to on-the-ground reports.

    “The US Virgin Islands were severely damaged by the hurricanes in September, and critical infrastructure is still not working,” Denmark’s Minister of Defense, Claus Hjort Frederiksen, confirmed in a news release announcing the aid.

    The Danish aid teams are expected to arrive in the territory by Saturday, 7 October. The Danish Ministry of Defense is financing the emergency assistance.

  • 20. JayJonson  |  October 6, 2017 at 7:25 am

    Thanks for this information, Rick. I guess what Trump means by "Make America Great Again" is to abandon American citizens in times of need! I am glad that Denmark keeps a benevolent watch on developments in the territory.

  • 21. Dadan Hermansah  |  October 15, 2017 at 11:17 pm

    Thanks for information, follow us

  • 22. bayareajohn  |  September 27, 2017 at 1:56 pm

    That advertising by bad example has worked so well with Louie Gohmert and Rick Santorum and Ted Cruz. And Donald "The Unamerican President" Trump. We so clearly need more like them.

  • 23. dlejrmex  |  September 28, 2017 at 6:14 am

    As soon as someone can get in touch with Rick, post a donation page. I was one that liked 1grod’s idea and I think we should move ahead with it. Sadly, I have no idea how to get in touch with him. Anyone know his Facebook account?

  • 24. VIRick  |  October 5, 2017 at 1:54 am

    In retrospect, I suppose I should have given someone here my cell phone number, although I believe davepCA knows it. In any case, who would have known that in one little area of the island that cell phone service would even be maintained, as almost all the other towers island-wide were knocked out.

    As for Facebook, I only maintain that account so as to access Equality Case Files. My username there is Rick Rickse. We still have no internet access, so I would not have been able to respond. And ditto on e-mail, although Scotty must know that address.

  • 25. JayJonson  |  September 28, 2017 at 9:25 am

    The Justice Department's attempt to justify sexual orientation discrimination apparently did not go very well at the Second Circuit. Read the account by Mark Stern at Slate:

  • 26. davepCA  |  September 28, 2017 at 10:14 am

    That article is a breath of fresh air. Thank you, Jay!

  • 27. A_Jayne  |  September 29, 2017 at 12:01 pm

    Thanks for that link. Since Nov, there have just been too many articles that require dread when reading. This one was actually fun. I needed that!

  • 28. theperchybird  |  September 29, 2017 at 12:09 am

    Unfortunately, it seems we can add Georgia to the list of countries with a constitutional marriage ban. Their parliament approved a constitutional package this week with 3/4 of MPs voting in favor and the opposition leaving the chamber during the vote in protest. The President can still veto the new draft of the Constitution, but sadly there would be enough votes to override him.

    The Constitutional definition of marriage went from gender-neutral terms to “a union between a woman and a man for the purpose of creating a family.”… (second to last paragraph)

  • 29. FredDorner  |  September 29, 2017 at 2:05 pm

    That's not surprising at all given that Georgia is extremely hostile to gays. A few years ago Eastern Orthodox priests in Georgia led a violent mob of 20,000 rabid Christians who were trying to stone to death 50 gay rights activists:

    The Georgian government knows who the leaders and many of the perpetrators were but has done nothing to apprehend or charge them:

  • 30. ianbirmingham  |  September 30, 2017 at 9:44 am

    Egypt "hunting down" gays, conducting forced anal exams

  • 31. ianbirmingham  |  September 30, 2017 at 10:09 am

    USVI: St. Thomas: 15% electrical power restoration; St. Croix: 10%.

  • 32. VIRick  |  October 6, 2017 at 12:10 am

    And even now, 5 days after Ian's previous report, in Puerto Rico, they are struggling at 5% electrical power restoration, while at the same moment, in addition, over half of Puerto Rico's 3.5 million residents are totally without any water whatsoever.

  • 33. ianbirmingham  |  September 30, 2017 at 10:17 am

    USVI: St. Thomas airport: open for commercial flights 9/28; St. Croix's plans to open next week

  • 34. JayJonson  |  October 1, 2017 at 7:03 am

    Congratulations to Germany as the marriage equality law takes effect. City Halls across the country are staying open today to allow same-sex couples to marry at the earliest opportunity. The first male couple married in Berlin this morning.
    <a href="” target=”_blank”>…” target=”_blank”>

  • 35. JayJonson  |  October 2, 2017 at 4:35 pm

    After the 5th Circuit has denied an en banc review of a panel upholding Mississippi's unconstitutional religious liberty law, Lambda Legal and other organizations will appeal to the Supreme Court.

  • 36. allan120102  |  October 5, 2017 at 9:31 am

    I am happy you are safe and happy to hear about you. I have been worried sick because we didnt know anything about how you were doing. Hope everything gets done rapidly and the Virgin Islands get well rapidly.

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